7 headline acts
It would be alarming if the Headliners tent doesn’t cop about seven places in the Pic-O-De-Crop Semis this year, and if Smokey Burke and Colin Spencer, in particular, don’t seek legal redress if they are excluded.
Colin Spencer seemed out of sorts and muffled one line about “cost overruns” in his first song before the judges, but he had those who packed the Hilton on the edge of their seats Sunday night. First with his lyrically biting but amusing We Don’t Want A Government From Mars and Bullying.
Spencer argued that the way some had been judging the present Government had been harsher than at any other time in history; while he knocked others for giving the impression that no hope of economic recovery existed under this administration.
“Some cockrats ’bout hey don’t support prime ministers who are too black,” he added, flavouring the well arranged composition with a string of condemnatory lines.
Bullying was more lighthearted in tone but showed that this scourge went far beyond school and into the media, hotel business, sports, music, Parliament and even prison.
“Bajans are best known for their bullying,” he stressed, removing the “y” from the word as the song ended.
Smokey Burke’s arrangement, probably by Ricky Brathwaite, was outstanding in Crop Over Done and included a horn solo by Shawn Layne.
The song predicted the festival’s inevitable end, whether one looked at it from the musical perspective which included the contentious matter of “shareholders” Red Plastic Bag, Gabby and John King, or from the aspect of the sugar crop on which the festival is supposed to be based.
Outstanding lines like “when the winds of change suck the last juice from the canes, then we will know Crop Over done”, drove home Burke’s reasoning that as the festival evolved, it could well become a totally different entity and/or “done”.
If it doesn’t confuse the judges, it will go all the way to the finals.
Burke’s second song
While Burke may not always sound the part, he understands kaiso, and in his second song questions the long-held view that God Is A Bajan.
By showing that hypocrisy, cellphone sex, crime and other vices hold supreme sway in this fair land, he argued that Satan may well be a Bajan too.
Backed by a band whose set was characterised by melodic horns and an in-the-pocket rhythm section, Brian Bumba Payne was first before the judges with We Must Change That.
Though admitting Barbadians had much to be thankful for in this beautiful country, he called for the changing of politicians’ lies, trade unions serving two masters, workers going on the breadline, Government taking over people’s land, financial errors in Government, and poor enforcement of laws, among other things.
Bumba also rendered Do Not Give Up, urging Barbadians to be positive and help each other in these times of economic hardship.
It was refreshing to see Christal P. Austin in the kaiso arena, having treated her audiences to mainly R&B over the years. She rendered Fire One, calling for the firing of at least one minister as Government lurched from one error to another.
In the second half, she sang The Sponsors, insisting that in calypso competition and other ventures, those who succeeded were often supported by certain businesses or influential individuals.
“Um is who yuh know, a judge tell me so”, she sang, mentioning “poor rakey songs but dem is de ones de judges say win”.
Blood may be stepping up a notch from being a contender in Pic-O-De-Crop to being a winner, as he revealed that this has remained an elusive dream since he first set foot on stage at age 14.
But after being on the verge of winning seven times, he said he had sought advice from several personalities, including “Hartley”, “Chris” and “the PM”, but all to no avail, especially since the last person said nothing.
His predicament was at once honest and hilarious, as he got the night’s first encore.
If Blood doesn’t win, he may take the nation-building prize with Hold On Together, which urged people to reach across the country’s political and other divides, such as that between MESA (Men’s Educational Support Association) and NOW (National Organisation of Women), in order to take Barbados through the rough seas. This arrangement was spot-on!
Enough Is Enough
Chrystal Cummins-Beckles rendered Enough Is Enough, a shoo-in for semi-finals in my view, because of its emotional aura.
Playing the role of an abused woman calling the police, she painted the scene of the bloodied and bruised partner whose only fault was “tell(ing) him no”. She took it beyond the lament, however, stating that after the police responded, she told them to “rescue the rest”. Descriptive lyrics, and in many ways a wake-up call.
Her Another View played on the calls to make more babies, crack heads and shoot people, and put the names of those who defaulted on student loans in the Press. She also gave her “view” of her own exodus from All Stars, but by then that tent’s manager Eleanor Rice was absent.
Adrian Clarke’s Constituency Of Calypso posed him as a Member of Parliament addressing the House about the major happenings in the country, including the All Stars issue.
He did not spare the rod on the management of All Stars tent, with lines about the five who had quit and “can’t eat rice”, while blasting an announcer who focused on homophobic songs yearly.
It was AC close to his best, punching verbally and hitting his targets with precision, while bringing the crowd to its feet for the night’s second encore.
In his other song, I Apologise, he told Barbadians that apologies were due for the unfinished housing projects at Lancaster and Parish Land, and the National Conservation Commission layoffs, among other issues.
He also told the authorities they can “keep their crown and keep their car” since he would speak the truth without fear or favour.
Reigning monarch Ian Webster pranced across the stage in a suit of national colours to render Still My Home – a plea to Barbadians and to God for the recovery of this country from the ravages of crime and a slew of vices.
His The Karaoke Song, against the backdrop of the popular fad, showed what could be snippets of conversations between the Opposition Leader and Minister of Finance, based on their comments about each other in this newspaper.
He got an encore for this song; though his technique seemed familiar and left one to wonder how the judges would view his creativity.
Also performing were Mandisa, Summer Davis and Fabie, while MC was Adrian Boo Husbands, who offered the tent’s condolences to RPB on his mother’s passing.